By Owen Sheppard, Local Democracy Reporter
A Fulham man whose company would normally chauffeur professional footballers and boxers has dedicated himself to feeding isolated people during the lockdown.
Alan Thoroughgood, owner of Di Lusso Travel, teamed up with old friends who have also turned their businesses to fundraising and delivering food packages during the coronavirus outbreak.
Mr Thoroughgood, Bobby Drewett, Jamie Hoult and Jordan Ball have set up West London Covid-19 Support – what could be described as a mobile food bank – and have raised £5,000 so far.
Among their benefactors are Fulham FC’s Marcus Bettinelli, Chelsea’s Mason Mount, former Fulham player Ross McCormack, Chelsea assistant coach Jody Morris, and TV’s psychic, Sally Morgan, a Fulham resident.
They are taking their deliveries around West London in Mr Thoroughgood’s luxury cars, as well as Mr Ball’s Boh&Bees ice cream van, and vehicles Mr Hoult would normally use to transport bouncy castles.
“We have delivered 700 food bags to elderly and disabled people so far,” said Mr Thoroughgood, 39.
Asked how they got started, he said: “As you can imagine, we all work in businesses that have had to completely stop, so our diaries are clear.
“We’re used to doing charity events. When Grenfell happened Jamie and I did a massive collection.
“But we were looking at a local Facebook group and saw a photo of an old man looking at an empty supermarket shelf.”
They made their cause known via social media, where combined they have about 15,000 followers.
“We asked people to donate excess stuff they had bought, like toilet roll and pasta, but then we started asking for donations and we got a lot more,” said Mr Thoroughgood.
“We have been going to wholesale shops for the food and places like Costco.
“We’re delivering every morning and people have been getting in touch with us on Facebook to tell us about people who need help.”
He recalls visiting an 81-year-old woman who has no relatives in the UK, adding: “We were told by a GP surgery in Shepherd’s Bush about this woman. I rang her and she said all her family were in New Zealand.
“This woman was completely stranded, it was desperate. I honestly think some people might die of hunger if the virus doesn’t get them.”
They are covering a vast area, with people getting in touch from Wandsworth to Shepherd’s Bush. But they have also delivered to Leatherhead in Surrey – some 36 miles from Fulham.
“If someone rings us and they are desperate, we’ll definitely go to them,” he said.
To continue their work across the area, they now need more money.
“We have raised about £5,000, but to keep on we are going to need another £5,000 or £7,000,” said Mr Thoroughgood. He also thanked Stephen Adams, the manager of Waitrose in Fulham Palace Road, who donated £2,500 of stock.
On April 4 the four friends set up a GoFundMe page. To make a donation click here.
To find out more about West London Covid-19 Support, click here.
Pictured top: Alan Thoroughgood with Bobby Drewett
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